The Cubs improved their standing in the NL Wild Card race with comeback win over the Reds Tuesday night. The Cubs gained ground on the Pirates and are within 4 ½ games of Pittsburgh for the top Wild Card spot. The Pirates lost 7-4 to the Brewers. And the Cubs’ lead over the Giants increased to 6 ½, seven in the loss column, with San Francisco’s 2-1 loss to the Dodgers. The Cubs remain 10 ½ games behind St. Louis in the division after the Cardinals walked off the Nationals.
The Cubs improved to 75-56 on the season Tuesday, the most wins for the franchise at the big league level since 2009 (83-78). The Cubs equaled the win-total of the 2010 team (75-87) Tuesday.
Dexter Fowler has turned his season around in the second half and he is one of the big reasons the Cubs have the third best record in the National League.
Fowler is batting .310/.436/.557 in his last 42 games with 12 doubles, three triples and seven home runs for a .993 OPS. Fowler has 33 walks with 39 strikeouts in 158 at bats. And his season slash line is up to .257/.352/.430 with 25 doubles, seven triples and a career-high 15 home runs for a .782 OPS.
Dexter Fowler is a free agent at the end of the season and according to a report from Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs plan to make Fowler a qualifying offer. If Fowler accepts it, the Cubs would have a solution for one year to give prospects, like Albert Almora Jr., more development time. If Fowler rejects it and signs with another team, the Cubs would gain a draft pick.
Fowler is making $9.5 million this season, his last year of arbitration eligibility. Last year’s qualifying offer was $15.3 million and Buster Olney recently reported the qualifying offer this year is expected to be between $15.7 and $16 million.
The Cubs are focused on this season and at least making the playoffs. And Dexter Fowler has played his way into a long-term contract, or at the minimum another season with the Chicago Cubs.
RHP Neil Ramirez made his second rehab appearance for Double-A Tennessee on Tuesday night. Ramirez completed two-thirds of an inning. Ramirez gave up a hit with a walk and two strikeouts on 18 pitches, 10 strikes.
In two appearances (1 2/3 innings), Neil Ramirez has allowed two hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
Roster Moves – September Call-Ups
The Cubs made eight roster moves prior to Tuesday’s game with the Reds.
The Cubs recalled INF Javier Baez and LHP Tsuyoshi Wada from Triple-A Iowa. C David Ross was activated from the Family Emergency List. OF Austin Jackson was added to the active roster. The Cubs selected the contracts of RHP Trevor Cahill and OF Quintin Berry from Triple-A Iowa.
The Cubs designated LHP James Russell and RHP Rafael Soriano for assignment to open spots on the 40-man roster for Trevor Cahill and Quintin Berry.
With Tuesday’s roster moves, the Cubs 40-man roster stands at 40 players. And the active roster consists of 30 players, 14 pitchers (five starters, 10 relievers) and 16 position players.
James Russell was caught in a numbers game according to a report from Comcast SportsNet. When asked about Russell, Theo Epstein told the beat writers, “We weren’t looking to get rid of anybody, but with the 40-man roster crunch at this time of year we have to make some tough choices. He helped us get through a difficult part of the season, he helped stabilize the bullpen when we picked him up in April after being released from Atlanta. And we’re grateful to him for that. It’s just unfortunate, the timing. He went into a little bit of a slump recently at the time when we were looking to add guys.”
Mesa Solar Sox – Arizona Fall League
The rosters for the upcoming AFL season were announced Tuesday afternoon. And eight prospects from the Cubs’ system were included on the Mesa Solar Sox’s initial roster.
RHP Corey Black, RHP David Garner, RHP Pierce Johnson, LHP Rob Zastryzny, C/1B Cael Brockmeyer, C Willson Contreras, 3B Jeimer Candelario and OF Mark Zagunis are scheduled to spend the fall in Arizona.
And Myrtle Beach’s Mark Johnson will be the Solar Sox’s manager.
News and Notes
• Theo Epstein told ESPN Chicago that Clayton Richard, Tsuyoshi Wada, Eric Jokisch and Dallas Beeler are candidates to start a game in September if the Cubs need another starter.
• According to ESPN Chicago, Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop are two relievers the Cubs will count on in September.
• Joe Maddon said Tuesday that Kris Bryant could still play in the outfield, even with the additions of Austin Jackson and Quintin Berry, according to the Sun-Times.
• Kyle Schwarber’s two-run homer Tuesday night was his second longest of the year. Schwarber’s shot traveled 432 feet with a 106 mph exit velocity. Schwarber’s longest big fly of the season was on Aug. 13 against the Brewers and it traveled 434 feet.
• INF/OF Emilio Bonifacio might be part of the next round of call-ups according to ESPN Chicago. Bonifacio went 4-for-6 with three walks and two runs scored in Iowa’s 19-inning marathon Tuesday night with Oklahoma City. Bonifacio walked in a pinch-hit appearance in game two.
• Jesse Rogers posted five questions about the Cubs in September.
• The Cubs are seeking a big finish from the three, four and five spots in rotation according to a report from the Sun-Times. And ESPN Chicago reported Dan Haren made it through five in Cubs’ comeback win Tuesday night against the Reds.
• The Mariners called-up former Cubs farmhand RHP Tony Zych.
And last, but not least a couple of tidbits from Christopher Kamka: The Cubs lead the majors with 58 home runs this season by players born in the 1990’s. Nine players in the NL have 30-plus RBI since the All-Star break and three of them are Cubs … Kyle Schwarber (32), Kris Bryant (31) and Anthony Rizzo (30).
This Day In Cubstory
2002 – Sammy Sosa hit career home run No. 494 and passed Lou Gehrig on the All-Time home run list.
1998 – Sammy Sosa hit home run No. 56 and tied Hack Wilson’s 68-year old club record. Sosa smacked the home run off Jason Bere and helped the Cubs beat the Reds 4-2.
1986 – Cubs and Astros used a Major League record 53 players in Houston’s 8-7 over Greg Maddux at Wrigley Field.
1982 – Jason Hammel, born
1972 – Milt Pappas pitched a no-hitter against the Padres, the last no-hitter at Wrigley Field until Cole Hamels in 2015. Pappas set down 26 batters before walking Larry Stahl on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth. Pappas retired Gary Jestadt to preserve the no-hitter.
1969 – Cubs released Gene Oliver
1965 – Ernie Banks hit his 400th home run, a three-run shot off Curt Simmons in the third inning. The Cubs beat the Cardinals 5-3 at Wrigley Field. Banks drove in 106 runs in 1965. Ron Santo and Billy Williams also drove in 100 runs for the Cubs, the only team with three players with 100-plus RBI in 1965.
1955 – Ernie Banks hit his 40th homer of the season in Cubs 12-2 win over the Cardinals at Wrigley. Banks’ home run set a record for shortstops and passed the 39 home runs Vern Stephens hit with the ’39 Red Sox. Banks finished the season with 44 home runs and topped his own record in 1958 when he hit 47 homers.
1932 – Kiki Cuyler hit his fifth home run in six games in the Cubs 8-5 victory over the Cardinals. The Cubs won the 13th game in a row behind Burleigh Grimes and Charlie Root.
1929 – Cubs beat the Cardinals 11-7 and 12-10 in front of 81,000 at Wrigley Field. 38,000 showed up for the first game and 43,000 in the afternoon. Rogers Hornsby hit two home runs and Hack Wilson hit one longball.
1903 – Cubs signed free agent Jack McCarthy